University of New Hampshire: Creating Hybrid Classrooms with Shure Audio Solutions
The University of New Hampshire prides itself on its award-winning faculty and cutting -edge facilities as the state’s ‘flagship public research institution.’ When Covid-19 struck in 2020, it needed to act fast to maintain that reputation. How could the university’s faculty pivot to keep teaching when students and staff were suddenly distributed far and wide?
Technology would provide the answer.
Founded in 1866, the University of New Hampshire comprises dozens of academic departments, interdisciplinary institutes and schools, and research centers. Its three core campuses are Durham, home to more than 15,000 students; Concord, site of the Franklin Pierce School of Law; and Manchester, with more than 1,000 students.
The University of New Hampshire prides itself on its award-winning faculty and cutting-edge facilities as the state’s ‘flagship public research institution.’ When Covid-19 struck in 2020, it needed to act fast to maintain that reputation. How could the university’s faculty pivot to keep teaching when students and staff were suddenly distributed far and wide? Technology would provide the answer.
Upgrades of the audio-visual technology linking on-campus lecturers and students with those joining remotely were initially planned for 73 classrooms: that number would grow to almost 200 before the end of summer. Led by the Learning Space Technologies Services team, this project was both ambitious and complex. Marshall White, Director of Learning Space Technologies, comments: “We’d previously refreshed the AV facilities at the university’s Paul College of Business and Economics with a solution that included the Shure MXA910 ceiling array microphone, and it had all gone very well. Our challenge was to do the same but much faster and on a far bigger scale.”
In the spring of 2020, Shure technical experts met with Learning Space Technologies Services team to demo the MXA910 ceiling array microphone in person. After hearing the comparison with their existing ceiling microphone technology, the team agreed that the MXA910 performed above their expectations.
Throughout the summer, local installers worked to upgrade the classrooms and test everything before classes resumed in August. According to Marshall White, while the team aimed to stamp out the same recipe for each classroom, they encountered different builds in each room, all of which needed to be considered individually. Through modifications via Shure Designer Software, the teams were able to find a solution for every layout despite concerns over room acoustics and reflectivity. Dave Scannell, Manager of Learning Space Technologies, recalls how the university Dean was initially uncertain about the MXA910, but once he heard the audio quality: “He loved it. He couldn’t believe it,” says Dave.
Although the room configurations varied, the core products remained the same: the MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphone, the Shure Dante digital audio networking protocol, P300-IMX as the processor for each room, and the Shure Microflex® Wireless (MXW) microphone system for some larger classrooms. The Integrators for this projector were Red Thread Spaces and CCS New England.
Shure’s solution for the University of New Hampshire ensures that students can attend classes either in person or remotely while also providing teaching staff with the flexibility to give lectures from home. Lecturers have very little or no interaction with the technology, meaning ease of use for the faculty is a substantial asset. Faculty members simply plug a USB into their computer and select a collaboration platform, either Zoom or others commonly used on campus. Cameras track professors around the room, while the unobtrusive Shure ceiling mics pick up the audio with flawless quality.
With an overwhelmingly positive response from the faculty, Dave Scannell has no doubts about a key success factor: “Working with Shure was awesome. I think without the help from the Shure engineers, this project would not have been successful.”
|MXA910||343||The new MXA910 with IntelliMix® represents the next evolution in the Microflex® Advance™ Ceiling Array Microphone platform.|
|IntelliMix P300||173||Audio conferencing processor offers IntelliMix DSP algorithms optimized for audio/video conferencing applications.|